The age at which parents are giving their children a smartphone is getting younger & younger.
I’ve even heard of a child being given their very own smart phone aged 5!
No matter the age at which children get their own smartphones, it’s still increasingly likely they will suffer from nomophobia.
Nomophobia | no·mo·pho·bia
Nomophobia is defined as fear of being without your phone, a combination of the words no, mobile and phobia.
Despite the humorous way the word ‘nomophobia’ has been created, it’s certainly not a laughing matter. There have been recorded cases (in America) of some people choosing to commit suicide rather than part with their mobile phone and one addiction therapist stated that giving a child a smart phone is like giving them a ‘gram of cocaine.’
Of course, these are extreme cases and quotes, but it is widely accepted that an addiction to a smartphone is on par with addictions to gambling.
It’s not quite as black and white as using usage time as an indicator of smartphone addiction, which is often a parents go-to measure. (It’s been mine, for sure!)
This leaves parents a little high and dry when trying to distinguish between a child’s genuine enjoyment at being on their smartphone for hours on end or whether they are in fact addicted.
Until now, that is.
Researchers from Iowa in America have created a 20-question survey that enables parents to score themselves to determine whether their child is addicted, or not.
The Nomophobia Scale
Here’s how it works:
- Ask your child the questions (or answer them yourself).
- Answer the questions on a scale from 1 (Strongly disagree) to 7 (Strongly agree).
- Add up your scores.
Accordingly to the Iowa researchers, if you score between 20-60, you have nothing to worry about.
If you score 61-100, they suggest a moderate case of nomophobia.
And if you score 101-120, then you should be concerned.
- I would feel uncomfortable without constant access to information through my smartphone.
- I would be annoyed if I could not look information up on my smartphone when I wanted to do so.
- Being unable to get the news (e.g., happenings, weather, etc.) on my smartphone would make me nervous.
- I would be annoyed if I could not use my smartphone and/or its capabilities when I wanted to do so.
- Running out of battery in my smartphone would scare me.
- If I were to run out of credits or hit my monthly data limit, I would panic.
- If I did not have a data signal or could not connect to wifi, then I would constantly check to see if I had a signal or could find a wifi network.
- If I could not use my smartphone, I would be afraid of getting stranded somewhere.
- If I could not check my smartphone for a while, I would feel a desire to check it.
If I did not have my smartphone with me …
- I would feel anxious because I could not instantly communicate with my family and/or friends.
- I would be worried because my family and/or friends could not reach me.
- I would feel nervous because I would not be able to receive text messages and calls.
- I would be anxious because I could not keep in touch with my family and/or friends.
- I would be nervous because I could not know if someone had tried to get a hold of me.
- I would feel anxious because my constant connection to my family and friends would be broken.
- I would be nervous because I would be disconnected from my online identity.
- I would be uncomfortable because I could not stay up-to-date with social media and online networks.
- I would feel awkward because I could not check my notifications for updates from my connections and online networks.
- I would feel anxious because I could not check my email messages.
- I would feel weird because I would not know what to do.
How to avoid nomophobia
If you (or your child) scored highly, the first thing is to seek professional help.
But there some things you could do immediately, or indeed, you can do these things to avoid a bad case of nomophobia.
- Avoid keeping your smartphone by your bed. Swiping first thing in the morning and last thing at night nurtures an addiction.
- When socialising in reality, have a hard n fast no phone rule. Put it away & keep it away.
- Turn off notifications, noises & vibrations that only draw attention to the mobile device itself.
- Use third party apps to add time restraints & restrictions to usage.
Whatever score you came out with, cutting ties with your smartphone is never going to be a bad thing.